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By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Contributing Editor | 02/02/2011
When not engaged in baking the world's largest cookie — a 40,000-lb. confection the size of a basketball court that set a record in 2003 — the folks at the Immaculate Baking Co. (www.immaculatebaking.com), Wakefield, Mass., make a line of all-natural and organic baked goods that include items such as all-natural chocolate chunk cookie dough, cinnamon rolls and cranberry-orange scones.
"We believe our products taste better than the competition and have more of a home-made profile — and this is due to using the best ingredients, just like you would bake at home," says CEO Paul Nardone. "Our products are made with unbleached, unbromated flour, cane sugar, palm fruit oil plus premium inclusions such as our own all-natural chocolate chunks in the cookie dough and real wild blueberries or real cranberries in our scones."
This approach is exactly on track when it comes to the baking trends that became firmly established in the first decade of the 2000s and are certain to continue in this new decade. According to Kantha Shelke, a cereal chemist and principal of Corvus Blue, a Chicago-based food technology consultancy, the future of baking ingredients will be marked by developments in five principle areas: energy saving, satiety, clean label, sugar replacements and fortification.
"Rising fuel costs and bakers' desires to achieve more sustainable operations prompted energy-saving steps at every stage of production," says Shelke. "Intensified monitoring of gas and electrical consumption transferred into ingredients that help bakers make products using less energy. For example, to heighten the flavors associated with sourdough, bread makers are using customized flavor systems to compensate for shorter fermentation and proofing times via fast-acting enzymes and protein-based enhancers."
But this is no energy story – although it may be worth looking into ingredients that can help in that regard. Your hungry customers want to be fed.
Fill 'em up
Satiety, another of those trends, often is achieved via fiber content, usually from whole grains. But most consumers still have the, "Ugh! Tree bark!" reaction because of the toughness and density associated with whole grain formulations. One solution: white whole grain flour. It's from a whole wheat with a lighter color and finer grind.
A popular example is Ultragrain, from ConAgra Mills (www.conagrafoods.com), Omaha, Neb. Ultragrain is a whole-wheat flour with the taste, texture and appearance of white flour. The "whole grain white" category common in grocery stores today is making its way into all aspects of baking. "From baguettes to croissants, Ultragrain has proven that any baked good can have whole grain nutrition while meeting the taste and texture expectations of consumers," says Mike Veal, ConAgra's vice president of marketing.
Similar is WheatSelect, a white spring whole wheat flour from Horizon Milling (www.cargill.com/food/horizonmilling), a joint venture between Cargill and CHS Inc. WheatSelect provides all of whole wheat's nutrition, premium baking performance and the sensory attributes consumers prefer - light color, soft texture and mild flavor. The product performs well in a wide range of baked products, while maintaining great taste and without the bitter off notes of traditional whole wheat.
"Our 100 percent White Whole Wheat Flour product is nutritionally equivalent to traditional red wheat flour, yet lighter in color and flavor, with a slightly finer grind," says Allison Furbish, a coordinator for King Arthur Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com), Norwich, Vt. The company also offers resistant starch, a form of starch that naturally escapes digestion and acts metabolically like a fiber and the newest player in the satiety arena.
King Arthur resells Hi-maize Natural Fiber (derived from corn), which was developed by National Starch Food Innovation, as well as a high-fiber flour blend made with Hi-maize. Each can increase a product's fiber profile without altering texture or flavor. In fact, when substituted for standard wheat flour at levels up to 25 percent, some baked items even experience a slight increase in volume and fluffiness.
"We've developed a variety of recipes — everything from cookies to pizza to English muffins — using resistant starch products," says Furbish. "Part of the beauty of Hi-maize is that it's nearly ‘invisible' in baked goods, so you can get the added fiber without sacrificing flavor, texture or any of the pleasures associated with delicious baked goods. I see the potential baking uses for resistant starch as nearly endless."
Gluten-free with nongrains
The demand for gluten-free foods is on the rise, with increasing numbers of people being affected by celiac disease, while others are eliminating gluten from their diets through personal choice. Creating quality gluten-free foods is not easy, as glutens have many important properties in the baking process. Finding a suitable replacement has been a challenge for bakers.
One solution, from ConAgra Mills (www.conagramills.com), is its Ancient Grains flours. Made from amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff, these flours – in stock and in customizable blends – are naturally gluten-free. They also add some important nutrients (protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) as well as consumer interest. Sample baked goods also used ConAgra's Ultragrain white whole-wheat flour, which combines the nutritional benefits of whole grains with the mainstream appeal of refined flours.
For its gluten-free solution, American Key Food Products (www.americankeyfood.com) turns to the cassava root. King Lion Cassava Flour can be used as a single flour solution, eliminating the need to blend with other flours in most applications. It differs from both tapioca flour – which often is just tapioca starch -- and even other cassava flours on the market, which often are course cassava meal. King Lion has a finer particle size, similar to that of wheat four.
Quinoa, a seed plant related to beets and spinach rather than a true grain, has experienced a geometric increase in popularity based on a confluence of events. First, the grain benefited from better processing that accounts for its penchant to go rancid quickly, leading to a bitter taste.
The gluten-free trend has shifted more emphasis to such "pseudo" grains. Also, the increased focus on protein as a high-satiety fat replacer and energy provider makes the high-protein quinoa seed a boon. Finally, growers in South America have been able to pull whole villages out of grinding poverty by feeding the rapidly increasing demand. So much so that cooperatives of quinoa farmers saw prices increase by 67 percent, and Whole Foods and Trader Joes stores are forecasting shortages in providing consumers with quinoa and quinoa products.
Flours for future baking include not only grains other than wheat, but also starches from nongrain sources. "Novel flours from barley and pulses are what's new in the baking industry," states Linda Malcolmson, manager of special crops, oilseeds and pulses at the Canadian International Grains Institute (www.cigi.ca), Winnipeg, Manitoba. "These flours are functional ingredients since they deliver enhanced nutrition and unique functional properties. Inclusion of barley and pulses flours in formulations allows manufacturers to achieve products with enhanced nutritional benefits."
"Gluten-free remains a strong target," says Malcolmson. "Gluten-free bakery products are more difficult than other food products since development of gluten is important in achieving the structure of baked goods. Thus, to achieve satisfactory baked products, adjustments to the processing and ingredients are necessary. Flours such as pulses, rice and corn can be used to achieve gluten free bakery products."
"Not only does the gluten-free market continue to grow, but consumers are also demanding an improvement in product quality and nutrition," says Brook Carson, technical products and market development manager at ADM Milling (www.adm.com), Decatur, Ill. Last year, the company launched its Harvest Pearl white sorghum and white whole-grain sorghum flours for use in multigrain and gluten-free applications.
Gluten mixed with water will produce an elastic and porous web, which is capable of trapping the gas bubbles that leavening agents produce allowing the product to raise. Technicians at Gum Technology Corp. (www.gumtech.com), Tucson, Ariz., say the gums in Coyote Brand Stabilizer ST-101 mimic this function.
"The addition of ST-101 to gluten-free flour provides a replacement for the protein strands created in gluten development," says R&D Chef Sarah Martin. "This allows the bread to trap the gases from the expanding yeasts and the cell structure of the original bread is recreated."
In baked goods, Stabilizer ST-101 also binds moisture (reducing staling), improves cell structure, increases dough pliability and improves freeze/thaw stability. Some hydrocolloid gums work better together than they do apart, she says, noting that ST-101 is a synergistic blend of xanthan gum and guar gum.
Clean & green
To make their fare healthier, bakers often reduce calories, sugar and fat, while upping fiber and water. But they also are seeking natural ingredients to replace chemically produced ones. "Mold inhibitors are needed to help delay the growth of mold on bread products and help extend shelf life," Shelke points out. "AB Mauri Fleischmann's (www.fleischmannsyeast.com), Chesterfield, Mo., introduced Nabitor, an effective and synergistic all-natural mold inhibitor."
Another way bakers address consumer preference for chemical-free formulations can involve replacing undesired ingredients with enzymes. And specialty proteins can be used to improve dough handling while eliminating the "unnatural" ingredients, adds ADM's Carson, pointing to the company's Prolite wheat protein isolates as a popular natural example.
For most consumers, MSG is decidedly label unfriendly. Researchers at LycoRed Ltd. (www.lycored.com), Orange, N.J., have developed an all-natural taste enhancer and salt reducer ingredient called SANTE, an acronym for Super Advanced Natural Taste Enhancer. Derived from tomatoes, it has a strong umami flavor and is ideal for crackers, snacks and other savory baked products. LycoRed's extensive application research and multiple test trials showed Sante can replace MSG in a one-to-one ratio and substitute for 30-50 percent of salt in foods. The ingredient is readily soluble and highly stable in high temperatures.
Nothing says clean label in baking like trans-fat free. "I believe bakeries are most interested in knowing if a trans-free, all-purpose shortening can be made to replace the traditional partially hydrogenated oils," says Don Banks, president of Edible Oil Technology Inc., Dallas. "Now it's possible to make trans-free shortening for essentially any bakery application.
"However, the range of performance for individual trans-free shortening products will not be as great as for traditional all-purpose shortening," he continues. "Bakeries making a wide range of products will likely find it necessary to use multiple types of trans-free shortening to replace and match the performance of a single all-purpose shortening previously used."
But St. Louis-based Bunge Oils (www.bungenorthamerica.com) answers that call with a line of shortenings and oils introduced at the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) last September. The UltraBlends EIE line consists of soybean-based products, which undergo enzymatic interesterification to eliminate trans fat and optimize saturated fats while delivering functionality and great taste. They have a wide plasticity range and have a more consistent SFC Curve, creating less variability in firmness of the dough.
Also at IBIE, Cargill debuted Clear Valley omega-3 shortening, an industry-first shortening to help bakeries differentiate their products by allowing a potential FDA health claim for ALA omega-3.
Qualisoy (www.qualisoy.com), St. Louis, provides "enhanced trait" soybean oils to match a variety of baking needs. These include soybean oils with low-linolenic acid content that maintain traditional performance of regular soy, but with added flavor stability to soybean oils high in oleic acid. High oleic soybean oil also provides increased oxidative stability and reduced saturates.
The Plenish line from Qualisoy contains more than 75 percent oleic acid and 20 percent less saturated fat than commodity soybean oil. "The high oleic soybean oils are trans fat-free oils that can be used in any of the applications that previously utilized high-stability oils produced by hydrogenation and winterization," says Banks. And high omega-3 soybean oils contain about 20 percent omega-3 fatty acid. "Early reports are that the new omega-3 soybean oil performs comparably with regular soybean oil in bakery applications," he adds.